Lives of the fellows

Courtney Beresford Ingor Willey

b.20 March 1913 d.December 2004
MC(1940) MBE(1945) BM BCh Oxon(1937) MRCS LRCP(1937) MRCP(1947) MD Lond(1952) FRCP(1970)

Courtney Willey was a consultant physician to the west Cumberland group of hospitals. He was born in Hendon, Middlesex, the son of Frederick Joseph Ingor Willey, a medical practitioner, and Edith Mary Willey née Aplin, the daughter of a Salvation Army preacher. He was educated at Alleyn Court, at Harrow, and then went on to Balliol College, Oxford, and the London Hospital.

In 1937 he was a casualty officer at Poplar Hospital, in east London. Between 1938 and 1940 he was a house surgeon, house physician and then junior resident accoucheur at the London Hospital.

In 1940 he joined the RAF, and was initially posted to RAF Tangmere, West Sussex, joining 601 squadron. Just four months later the Luftwaffe began to attack the airfields of southern Britain. On 18 August 1940 dive bombers blitzed the airfield including striking the medical quarters. Willey was at one stage buried in part of a bombed chimney, but managed to set up an emergency sick bay. Here he treated a badly-burned US pilot, Billy Fiske, the first American to die during the war. For his work during these attacks Willey was awarded the Military Cross. He was later sent to Singapore and was captured by the Japanese. He was despatched to the notorious Changi Jail before being sent to work on the Burma railway. It was in the prisoner of war camps that he met his lifelong friend, John Simpson [Munk’s Roll, Vol.XII, p.464].

Following demobilisation, Willey was a medical officer at Southend Municipal Hospital. He was then a senior medical registrar at Central Middlesex Hospital in London, and subsequently at Norfolk and Norwich Hospital.

From January 1952 he joined his friend John Simpson in the north west, and was a consultant physician in the west Cumberland area, part of the Newcastle Hospital Board. Willey assumed responsibility for Whitehaven and district, and was one of the first two physicians appointed to Whitehaven Hospital.

In 1949 Willey married Muriel Gladys King. They had two sons (Martin and Peter) and two daughters (Caroline and Judith).

RCP editor

[Whitehaven News 8 November 2007 www.whitehavennews.co.uk/news/people/hero-s-medals-go-on-show-1.195499?referrerPath=news/people – accessed 11 July 2011; Egremont Today www.egremont-today.com/712willey.htm and www.egremont-today.com/drwilley.htm – accessed 11 July 2011]

(Volume XII, page web)

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